This last June the American Academy of Periodontology came out with the results of a survey taken in March that revealed some interesting things including the revelation that over a third (36%) of those surveyed would rather do an unpleasant task like waiting in a long check-out line, sitting in traffic, or cleaning a toilet than floss every day.
Think about that: some people would rather clean out their toilets than floss. How does that make sense?
The reason that this is such a concern for the AAP is that failing to floss does often result in unhappy health consequences. This is because the plaque in your mouth is composed of bacteria, about 500 different species of it, and brushing alone will not take them out – only flossing will get the bacteria that live below the gum line. Left to flourish in your mouth, these bacterial colonies will lead to gum disease with swelling, irritation, and eventually receding gums and tooth loss as symptoms. Gum disease has also been linked to rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
So if it’s so good for us and it takes such a small commitment of time and money, why don’t more adults and children floss? It’s easy to forget to do, and it can seem pretty trivial in terms of results. Holding periodontal disease at bay is a lot less sexy than building muscles by lifting weights, for instance. Some people don’t like having hands in their mouths – even their own, and it can be awkward to floss, even painful if you wrap the string too tightly around your fingers. No one loves to see their gums bleed either. That’s not fun.
There are, however, alternatives to using the traditional string floss such as flossing sticks, water flossers, sonic toothbrushes, or visiting the dentist for cleanings more often. People with great dental health can get away with skipping sometimes too, although forming a daily habit is the best way to ensure you will actually floss. There are some people shouldn’t skip, though. Daily flossing is especially important if you have certain medical conditions, including diabetes.
Since there are so many good reasons to floss, why don’t you start forming the habit today? Your teeth and gums (and the rest of your body) will thank you, and your dental hygienist will definitely notice on your next cleaning visit.